Foster Youth At High Risk Of Identity Theft

It can be difficult to determine how identity theft and cybercrime can affect a demographic such as foster youth. When compared to other areas, there simply isn’t that much data being tracked on youth of this age and in this setting.

That’s why Symantec and The Identity Theft Resource Center teamed up last year to get some actual data on the topic. Examining the occurrences and effects of identity theft on youth ages 14 and up, the study was based on a survey sent to three foster youth organizations: Bill Wilson CenterPromises2Kids and Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) which are participating in Fostering A Secure Tomorrow (FAST).

What Did The Survey Find?

As you’d expect with an under-supported and unexamined part of the population, foster youth are commonly targeted for identity theft via digital means. There are two key factors as to why this happens:

  1. Age: Foster youth, like all children, are prime targets for identity theft because they have clean credit reports. Also, it’s unlikely that their credit score is being monitored, which allows identity thieves to cause extensive damage for years without notice.
  2. Access To Data: The more homes a foster youth stays in, the more people there are that have access to his or her data. Moving from home to home requires new caseworkers and foster parents to be given access to the child’s data. The more people with access, the higher the chance that one of them leaves it unsecured, unwittingly breaches the data, or even maliciously sells it to a third party.

Are Foster Youth Checking Their Credit Reports?

Despite the fact that they are key targets, it doesn’t appear that foster children are being taught to make a habit of checking their credit reports for any suspicious activity.

  • 65% reported that they did not access their credit report while in foster care.
  • 78% reported that they were unsure they could even understand a report if they had checked it.
  • 15% reported having already been a victim of identity theft by the age of 18.

How Can Your Foster Agency Protect Its Youth Residents?

You have to take steps to ensure that data is properly protected on your case management software, as well as follow best practices for managing access to that data.

TNN can help – we offer a number of services that will enhance your cybersecurity and protect the foster youth you oversee:

  • VPN Setup and Maintenance: One of the most proven techniques to make sure your data is safe is to use a virtual private network (VPN), which will give you back control over how you’re identified online. A VPN creates a secure tunnel for your data to transit the Internet, using a network of private servers.

    When you use a VPN, your data is encrypted as it moves from your device to the VPN and then continues onto the Internet through what’s called an exit node. A VPN creates the appearance that your data is coming from the VPN server, not from your device.

    That makes it harder for an attacker to identify you as the source of the data. Even if attackers can intercept your data, the encryption means the attackers can’t understand your data or use it to their advantage.

  • Network Security: The network that connects your agency’s computers deals with a lot of sensitive and valuable information and, as such, it can often be targeted by viruses, worms, spyware, and other malicious digital threats.

    Our team will implement the right technologies to protect your agency through strategic cybersecurity protocols. By deploying a range of monitoring systems and best practices, you can eliminate variables that would otherwise degrade network integrity. Be sure to consider email monitoring, password policies, personal web use standards, compliance validation, access control, and identity management.

  • Access Control: Our team will help you track who has access to data on which foster youths, making sure that the list remains as small as possible, phasing out past parents and caseworkers, and securely adding new ones.